The BnF

Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search

Reading room X © Béatrice Lucchese
The Department for Readers' Orientation and Bibilographic Search aims to provide assistance to all readers and visitors wishing to get familiar and use the whole of the library's resources. It can provide readers with the first elements of information about the collections. One of its missions is to answer any bibliographic information request, both on-site and remotely. The Department is also responsible for the registration, reception and basic training of the Research Library's readers.

Collections of the Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search

Partial removal of the collections available in free-access in the Reference Room (Oval reading room)

Richelieu Library
From 1st march 2016

The Oval reading room will be closed for renovation work at the end of 2016. For this reason, a major part of the collections available in free access will be moved to other premises from 1st March 2016. However, the works labelled with the following classification marks remain available:

  • 017: libraries' catalogues
  • 019: archives
  • 027.544 BNF: documents published by the BnF including the exhibition catalogues
  • 098: anonymous bibliographies, fakes and literary hoaxes
  • 200: religions
  • 920 to 929.92: biographical dictionary, genealogy, heraldry and other sciences offering a secondary field in history.

The works belonging to the "Bibliothèque de la Pléiade" collection remain available. Please ask the reading room's members of staff.

A selection of language dictionaries is also proposed to readers.

Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.

With its encyclopedic vocation, the Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search provides readers with access to library catalogs, encyclopedias, directories, guides, biographical dictionaries, and a large number of bibliographies, enabling them to make full use of BnF’s collections.

As a source of help in researching general topics or fields at the intersection of more than one discipline, the Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search:

  • helps with establishing bibliographies and identifying documents, authors, key figures, etc.;
  • provides information about the library’s collections;
  • organizes training workshops for all types of users and personalised assistance for researchers.
  • may point readers towards other documentary institutions.

The department’s reference collections cover all topics, and more specifically the following:

The collections of the Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search are indexed in the Catalogue général de la BnF.

The department provides access in room X to many card catalogues from the former sections of the Bibbliothèque nationale :

  • Subjects catalogues (1882-1979) ; to complete researches in the oline "Catalogue général de la BnF" wich does not indicate subjects for books acquired before 1980.
  • Le Senne collection ( history of Paris)
  • French newspapers by "départements" in addition to the printed Bibliographie de la presse française politique et d'information générale, des origines à 1944)
  • Foreign daily newspapers and serials until 1997 ( arranged by countries)
  • French overseas newspapers
  • Serials titles arranged by subjects  from 1960 to 1987
  • Factums since 1790 (trials documents)
  • Medicine thesis until 1959.
The department publishes methodological research guides in printed form (Recherches biographiques : dictionnaires et autres outils de recherche and Thèses et autres écrits académiques);It contributes to the production of the online manual Chercher et trouver : les mémos de la BnF.

Chercher et trouver aims to replace the Guide de recherche en bibliothèque. The Guide de recherche en bibliothèque (Library Research Guide) provides more information about unique tools available in Room X, such as:

  • the French National Bibliography’s complete collection,
  • a large number of files, including files and subject registers for books added to BnF between 1882 and 1979,

The Department also organises training sessions to use the Catalogue général de la BnF, Gallica and electronic resources. It also coordinates workshops for PhD students proposed to all advanced students.

History of the department

The Department of Readers' orientation and Bibliographic Search is heir to the Catalog Room in the former Printed Materials Department of the National Library. This room, on which work began in 1934 at the instigation of the administrator, Julien Cain, and which was completed in 1936, was already home to bibliographies and catalogs of all kinds, with the aim of assisting the Library’s readers.

In June 2014, the Department for Readers' Orientation and Bibilographic Search was created. It originates in the Department of Bibliographic Search and the Reader's Orientation Service. Merging these two services has allowed to continue the usual tasks of the service (accreditation, reception of readers and bibliographic information) but also to develop activities connected with public service, one of the main keys to libraries' future: production of working tools, personalised assistance, eductational activities...

For more info

History of the BnF

Thursday, March 10, 2016


Virginie Rose
Secretary : 01 53 79 54 24
Fax : 01 53 79 56 90
Email : recherche-bibliographique